I’m so happy to be celebrating Mother’s Day this year with both my mothers in Fort Wayne, IN. My in-laws live in Fort Wayne, and my own parents flew in from Texas to join us for the weekend. On Friday, the huge storm system in the Midwest challenged our intended celebration, but when two out of three flights from Chicago to Fort Wayne were canceled, we decided to rent a car and road trip the rest of our journey. Tim drove through the storm and got us in town in time for dinner on Friday night.
I am tremendously blessed to have two wonderful mothers, and this weekend was a great reminder of that fact. We cooked together, talked a lot, looked through some old photographs; it was a relaxing weekend and a good break from the busyness that is our typical life.
Both mothers love shortbread cookies, so I wanted to honor them (as well as the mothers at the Chinese Christian Church of Fort Wayne) with these azuki shortbread cookies. I was toying with the idea of making shortbread cookies filled with azuki paste, but in the end I folded the paste into the dough. At a glance, you could mistake these for chocolate chip cookies, but those chips are in fact red beans! Still sweet, but without the extra cholesterol. This recipe was adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I used the shortcut shortbread cookie method that I’ve posted about before.
Happy Mother’s Day! Please call home to your mothers and let them know how much you love them; I don’t think our mothers will ever tire of hearing that from their children. So Mom and Mama, I love you both.
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 cup azuki bean paste
1. With a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth.
2. Add flour, cornstarch, and salt to butter mixture, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated.
3. Fold in azuki paste.
3. Transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it does not cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes. You may keep the dough in this stage up to two days.
4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one four times with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.
Azuki (Red Bean) Paste
1 cup dried azuki beans
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups water
1. In a small bowl, cover beans with water and soak overnight.
2. Drain beans. Simmer beans and 3 cups water for an hour or until soft. Continue to simmer until the beans absorbs most of the water. Add sugar and mix beans until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
3. Put beans in food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth paste.
4. Add sugar and continue blending until desired sweetness and consistency.